City voters to weigh in on natural gas pipeline
VERGENNES — Vergennes residents on Tuesday will not only weigh in on a $2.88 million Vergennes Union High School bond proposal, but also face a ballot item that will ask if they support the Vergennes City Council’s endorsement of the proposed Vermont Gas Systems pipeline through Vergennes and other Addison County communities.
Aldermen in early November formally accepted a petition from resident Jeff Margolis that calls for that citywide vote on whether Vergennes residents back or oppose the council’s pipeline support.
Aldermen then set Dec. 10 as the vote date to coincide with the VUHS bond vote. The polling station in the city’s Green Street fire station will be open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Aldermen expressed their support for the pipeline in a letter they wrote backing Vermont Gas’s successful application to the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) seeking to use a reserve fund to pay for extending the pipeline from Chittenden County. The PSB will ultimately rule on whether the extension will move forward.
Margolis worked with city officials on the wording of his petition, which was signed by about 100 residents, enough to trigger the vote. He and officials came up with wording for the petition and ballot that they agreed made the choice clear:
“Shall the voters support the City Council to encourage the Vermont Public Service Board to allow Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. to expand its transmission and distribution systems to serve the residents and businesses of Vergennes?”
Residents who support the pipeline, which Vermont Gas has said would serve most city homes and businesses with lower-cost energy, should vote yes. Those who oppose the pipeline extension should vote no, they said.
Margolis first expressed his opposition to the pipeline in September. He told aldermen he favors alternative, renewable energy sources that he said could be shunted aside if the pipeline goes forward; that fracking, a source of some of Vermont Gas’s product, damages the environment; and that residents of other towns in the pipeline’s path are not being treated fairly.
Vermont Gas and pipeline advocates say natural gas is, as well as being cheaper, less harmful to the environment and global warming than other fossil fuels, and that its availability would be a boon to the area’s economy.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]
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